Evaluation of Eye Health Care Services in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: A cross-sectional study
Obaid, Aziza Mousa
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Introduction: Human resources are the most important asset of any health system and their availability and quality are key determinants of efficiency and quality of health services provided. Aim of the study: To assess and evaluate the eye health care services (facilities &eye care cadres) in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in addition to the geographical distribution of these services. Material and Methods: This quantitative cross-sectional study, which is recommended by the WHO Vision 2020 "right to sight" initiative, was conducted at the level of the West Bank cities and East Jerusalem through phone interviews or face-to-face administered questionnaire. The response rate was 76.9% among optometrists and 72.7% among ophthalmologists; the study included 183 out of 227 eye care facility and 331 out of 524 eye care providers in the Occupied Palestinian territories. Results: The majority of eye care facilities in the OPT N=212 (93.3%) belong to the private sector, including five major hospitals, 58 eye clinics, five eye surgical centers, and 143 optical centers. Civil, NGO and governmental instructions represented only 4.01%, 0.8% and 1.7% of the facilities respectively. The Occupied Palestinian territories mostly met the WHO vision 2020 criteria for the number of human resources with 1.6 ophthalmologists and 5.7optometrists per 50,000 populations. However, the OPT did not meet the WHO criteria for the operational capacity; the average in the OPT was 0.5 Eye beds/20,000. Also, the eye care situation in the OPT suffers from an inappropriate distribution of eye care health services and cadres and a lack of subspecialties among eye care practitioners, especially in the governmental sector. Conclusion: A better distribution of eye care cadres and the establishment of higher degrees and new training programs, especially for optometrists are highly recommended. Optometrists’ role should be redefined for primary eye care in rural regions and small towns, for the delivery of eye care services in the underprivileged areas to become more accessible, Key Words: Evaluation, Eye Care Services, Eye Care Cadres, Optometrist to Population ratio, Ophthalmologists to Population ratio.